Volkswagen has previewed a brawny 290hp version of the seventh-generation Golf GTI with the unveiling of the TCR Concept at the annual Wörthersee fan meet in Austria. The carmaker provides factory support to privateer teams at the Touring Car Racing (TCR) championship with a dedicated 350hp, track-based version of the Golf GTI developed by Volkswagen Motorsport. The new performance version of the GTI hatchback celebrates VW's participation at the championship.
While still billed as a concept, the front-wheel-drive Golf GTI TCR has been confirmed for production later this year, with VW officials suggesting that its volumes will not be restricted. However, with the development of the eighth-generation Golf already at an advanced stage and slated for a 2019 release, the road-going Golf GTI TCR appears to be set for a relatively short production life.
Being the latest in a long line of Golf GTI-based concepts, the car is powered by the same turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine used by the earlier Golf GTI Clubsport. Speaking to our sister publication, Autocar UK, Volkswagen confirmed that the GTI TCR will use this engine in combination with a front differential lock and a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. It will also come with a particulate filter and the titanium Akrapovič exhaust system as standard, which was previously only available on the four-wheel-drive Golf R.
The engine puts out 290hp at 5,000rpm in overboost mode – that's 45hp more than the less heavily tuned engine used by the standard Golf GTI fitted with the optional performance package. Torque builds to a peak of 369Nm between 1,600-4,300rpm, as offered by the strongest of the standard Golf GTI models. As with the standard model, the driver can choose between four driving modes: Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual — the latter of which permits specific tuning of the steering, engine mapping and gearbox software, as well as the optional adaptive damping system and Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC).
VW has yet to reveal a kerb weight or the acceleration claims for the GTI TCR, but it has revealed that its limited 250kph top speed can be raised to 270kph through an optional pack. As a point of reference, the Golf GTI Clubsport is claimed to weigh 1,375kg and boasts a 0-100kph time of 5.9sec. Among the chassis tweaks accompanying the performance upgrade of the new model is a 20mm reduction in ride height, standard 19-inch wheels and upgraded brakes featuring larger discs and callipers than those in the standard model.
A series of styling changes – all aimed at enhancing its performance, according to VW – sets the GTI TCR apart from the standard Golf GTI. These include a reprofiled front bumper (featuring altered outer ducts to cool an additional radiator within the engine bay), a more prominent front splitter element, wider sills underneath the doors and a large full-width diffuser element at the rear housed between two chromed Akrapovič tailpipes. Buyers will be able to discern TCR decals over the rear of the sills, a body side foil featuring the honeycomb shape reflected in the design of the grille and puddle lamps that project a TCR logo to the side of the car when the door is opened. VW says that it intends to offer the latest model in five exterior colours – a new pure grey hue, along with the traditional GTI colours (pure white, tornado red and deep black pearl effect).
On the inside, the GTI TCR adopts new microfibre upholstery for the sides of the sport seats and door inserts. The design of the upholstery for the seat centre has been developed specifically for this model. Meanwhile, the flat-bottomed steering wheel and gear knob receive a red marker at the 12 o’clock position as homage to the racing version of the Golf GTI TCR, of which VW Motorsport claims to have delivered up to 100 units since 2016.
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